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Hospitality graduate Thomas Hawthorne wins Bill Galvin Scholarship


Newcastle local and TAFE NSW graduate Thomas Hawthorne was recently awarded the William R Galvin Memorial Scholarship at a ceremony in Sydney.

The scholarship was established by TAFE NSW in memory of the late William R Galvin OAM, a former TAFE NSW teacher.

It encourages further study, training or work placement in the tourism, travel and hospitality industry and includes $5,000 prizemoney to pursue further learning. 

Twenty-four-year-old Thomas completed a Diploma in Hospitality at TAFE NSW Hamilton, relearning the practical skills needed to restart his career after sustaining an acquired brain injury in a life-changing car accident four years ago.  

He said the day before the accident he’d surprised his family for Christmas, travelling home from Canada and his dream job working at the prestigious Fairmont Banff Springs.

“As part of my recovery, I enrolled in Certificate III in Hospitality, starting right back at the beginning to learn basic skills with the goal to work in management,” Thomas said.

“I realised the practical course at TAFE NSW would enrich my learning experience and help me to gain confidence.

“Winning the scholarship is an incredible nod to my passion and drive for the hospitality industry.

“It reassures me that I’m on the right path and to have my passion and skills recognised is beyond incredible.

“I’m already completing more study through the TAFE NSW Wine Academy and hope to use the scholarship to further my studies to enrich my career with cultural experiences.”  

Working at the exclusive Newcastle Club as a food and beverage attendant, Thomas said his study equipped him with practical skills he uses every day, providing exceptional service to turn moments into memories. 

“I love the versatility of customer service,” he admitted.

“Working as a hospitality professional gives me an identity and means I don’t need to lead with the brand of an injury or disability.

“Hospitality is the result of an intricate team working cohesively together.

“There is a role for any person, able-bodied or not, to make a significant contribution to the industry.” 

Head of tourism and experience services Cheryl Ballinger said the scholarship win was a testament to Thomas’ passion and commitment to excellence in the hospitality industry.  

“We’re very proud of him,” she added.

“Thomas is a worthy recipient of this scholarship.

“He approached his studies with clear goals and a strong drive to achieve them, working through challenges.

“He is a wonderful ambassador for TAFE NSW and vocational skills and training.

“I would hope that his story will inspire others to start their career journeys.”  

To find out more about studying hospitality at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit

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